by Ambreen Ali, Class of 2002
Welcome to my home away from home. My mom was raised in the American education system since her childhood and had a hard time maintaining her Muslim identity. For this reason, she insisted on sending her kids to an Islamic school. It takes a personal experience to understand the importance of having the effect of Islamic background during your tender years. A child needs to be in the Islamic school system for not only a year or two, but throughout their adolescence. Then you will see the effect. The seeds sewn today will blossom in the coming years, depending on the way they are provided for. It is this generation, in this country, which is going to carry the moral values of Islamic teachings into the future. My generation was lucky enough to be supervised by thoughtful parents with Islamic values like yourselves. But we still have to think of the future and the generations to come. Our future children will need supervision from us. In order to instill these thoughts and feelings, the bringing up of today
's children with Islamic values and morals cannot be overlooked. Even though parents may be enforcing Islamic values at home, the atmosphere outside is completely different and sometimes contradictory.
In order to serve and guide as well as to constantly remind your kids what is near and dear to you, an American Muslim school, like New Horizon is crucial. Most kids have two different lives. One around the house with their parents and family, and one outside with their peers.
When they are with their friends, they may initially resist peer pressure. But as time progresses, they feel the need to fit in. Their home lives and outside lives slowly become two different worlds. As parents, there is only so much you can do, which is to provide an Islamic environment in the house. But you cannot make sure that it is applied in all situations outside. In the elementary years at New Horizon, children learn the basic morals and accept them. It is in their middle school years, however, that these morals are engraved in a child and become part of the child. It is that inner feeling that we hope will guide them for the rest of their lives, insha' Allah. There are some children who have been raised as Muslims, yet are dating, drinking, and not adhering to Islamic principles, because they have not been in touch with Islam outside of home. Youth groups and Sunday schools are good, but not as effective as a full time, nurturing and reinforcing environment, like this one. Being here since kindergarten, not only have I made life-long friends, but I have been academically prepared to compete and excel. In addition, I have learned to be honest, God-fearing and conscious of who I am. I am thankful for my middle school years which shaped me into a confident Muslim, ready to face the challenges of the real world.
When I joined the real world, it amazed me at how little people knew about Islam. They all had biased and false views of what Islam promotes. Fed by the media, they all had negative perceptions of Islam. I immediately felt the need to educate them and inform them. Muslim children today are hesitant to display their faith and beliefs. But you will find children who have matured in an environment like that of New Horizon to be certain of their beliefs.
Charities can be given towards developing mosques or Islamic Centers, which are good causes. But in order to fill these mosques and Islamic Centers, we need this generation to rise and take charge. And this can only happen when a strong foundation is established in the children through the hard work of schools like New Horizon. This foundation will be so strong that it will serve purposes for a person's lifetime. It pleases me to see that there are thousands of converts to Islam today. But it is disheartening to see that many of the youth are slipping away from Islam. We must not let this happen. It is our responsibility to reach them. I was fortunate enough to have the village of New Horizon raise me, and every child deserves this opportunity. Thank you, mom and dad, and thank you New Horizon staff for what you have given me.